Recently, I was distressed to learn that there was a huge discrepancy in the hearing abilities of my left and right ears. If I stuck my left arm straight out to the side and lightly rubbed my thumb and forefinger together, I could distinctly hear the swishing, sandpaper-like noise of skin rubbing on skin. If I held my right hand right next to my right ear, however, no matter how vigorously I rubbed my thumb and forefinger together, I wouldn't hear squat. I constantly felt like I needed to "pop" my right ear, but no matter how exaggeratedly I would yawn, no matter how hard I would swallow, it was to no avail. I was semi-deaf. I could literally feel the deafness, not just hear it (er, that is, not just not hear it).
Well, for whatever reason I started experimenting with my morning routine. I thought maybe just maybe I had deafened myself with my blatant love for Q-tips® (yes, they have to be Q-tips® brand Q-tips®) and my blatant disregard for warning labels. One of the highlights of my day has always been the post-shower plunging of a cotton swab deep into my ear canal, where I would engage in a highly aggressive, cerebral-threatening swirl. It was an experience that one might call, to quote my brother, eargasmic. I loved it. Sadly, I thought it might have a little something to do with my rapid hearing loss.
So, as I said, I tweaked my post-shower ritual and, exerting every ounce of self-control I could muster, stopped inserting the Q-tip® into my ear canal. I gave my right ear nothing more than a light dusting around its various nooks and crannies. It was about as satisfying as an Eskimo kiss on your wedding night (no offense, Alaska!), but I kept my passions bridled.
As it so happened, a few days into this passionless routine, I noticed that my desire to "pop" my right ear had dissipated. I was hearing better. The right half of my head didn't feel like it was underwater. With my curiosity piqued, I raised my right hand to my right ear and began rubbing my fingers together. Lo and behold, there was swishing! I stuck my right arm straight out to the side and began rubbing my fingers together yet again. I could still hear my fingers swishing! I could hardly believe it! I had been cured! Maybe there had been a ball of wax stuck in my ear canal that I had shoved deeper into place every time I let that Q-Tip® ravage the right side of my head. I had heard of such stories. But regardless of all that, here I was, a walking, talking, hearing miracle!
The next morning, with my sudden restoration of hearing, I was overconfident and succumbed to temptation. I felt relatively sure that nothing could go wrong. So, I tried merely to tease my ear with some light penetration, but before I knew it, I was shamelessly violating my ear canal. And then it happened. I felt my ear go deaf. My revitalized hearing was gone. As far as the hearing in my right ear was concerned, the fat lady was singing, but I’d need an iPod and some decent quality headphones in order to hear it. It was as if the miracle had never occurred.
I'm happy to report, I have regained my hearing abilities yet again. Of course, I have always to steer clear of my right ear canal, for with even the slightest touch, I am bound to throw caution to the wind and once again obliterate my hearing. As for my left ear, it's always been good to me. I've never stopped shoving cotton swabs deep into it—it's my only solace. Of course, nowadays I am much more likely to run my amateur hearing tests on my left ear than I ever used to be. But so long as I hear that swish, my left ear will always have a date with the Q-tip®.